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Lett Appl Microbiol. 2004;39(1):103-8.

Comparison of the biotypes of Yersinia enterocolitica isolated from pigs, cattle and sheep at slaughter and from humans with yersiniosis in Great Britain during 1999-2000.

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Food and Environmental Safety, Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Weybridge, UK.



To investigate the relationship between livestock carriage of Yersinia enterocolitica and human disease. The biotypes/serotypes of strains recovered from the faeces of pigs, cattle and sheep at slaughter during a national survey in Great Britain in 1999-2000, were compared with those of strains isolated from human cases of yersiniosis during the same period.


The faecal carriage of Y. enterocolitica by cattle, sheep and pigs at slaughter was 6.3, 10.7 and 26.1%, respectively. Yersinia enterocolitica biotype (BT) 1a was the most frequently isolated biotype from livestock (58%) and was the predominant biotype (53%) isolated from human cases over the same period. The main recognized pathogenic Y. enterocolitica biotype isolated from livestock was BT3 (O:5,27) (35% of sheep, 22% of pigs and 4% of cattle) but this biotype was not detected in any of the human isolates investigated. The major pathogenic biotypes of strains isolated from humans were BT3 (O:9) (24%) and BT4 (O:3) (19%) whereas of the veterinary isolates investigated, only pigs (11%) carried BT3 (O:9) strains.


Because of significant overlaps in phenotypes of the veterinary and human strains it is not possible to comment on the correlation between host and pathogenicity, especially of biotype 1a.


The data suggest that further investigations using methods with greater discriminatory power are required. However the data also suggests that pigs may be the primary reservoir for human pathogenic Y. enterocolitica infection.

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